Risk Management

Risk Management

Risk management is used to identify hazards, assess levels of risk, and develop mitigating controls. Risk management should be a part of how ALL Marines think and make decisions, both on and off duty.

Why Manage Risk

Using the RM process provides commanders with the critical information needed to make informed decisions that reduce or offset risk, thereby increasing operational effectiveness and the probability of mission success. It is at its most basic level a systematic, continuous, cyclical process of identifying hazards, assessing associated risks, and implementing controls that mitigate and reduce those risks. The process is applicable across the spectrum of tasks and missions, both on-duty and off-duty. Failure to use RM allows unnoticed or unacknowledged and unmitigated risks to be present and to have negative effects not anticipated or planned for, significantly lowering the likelihood of a mission accomplishment without loss or damage to personnel and equipment.

Principles of Risk Management

The acceptance of risk is not an imprudent willingness to gamble, but rather a deliberate calculation that weighs the risks against potential benefits in pursuit of mission success. Four basic principles are the foundation for RM, and the framework for implementing the RM process.

  • Risk is anticipated and managed by planning.
  • We make risk decisions at the right level.
  • We do not accept unnecessary risk.
  • We accept risk when benefits outweigh costs

The Risk Management Process

Risk management is a five step process used to identify hazards, assess the associated risks, and implement controls. It is a systematic, cyclical, and repeatable process. By using RM, organizations, leaders, and individuals are better able to make informed risk decisions that reduce or offset risk. The process is applicable across the full spectrum of tasks and missions, both on-duty and off-duty. The five steps of risk management are as follows:

  1. Identify Hazards
  2. Assess Hazards
  3. Make Risk Decisions
  4. Implement Controls
  5. Supervise (and Evaluate)

Guidelines for Applying Risk Management

The following guidelines are provided to gain the maximum benefit and desired effects of the RM process.

  1. Apply the process in sequence. Each element is a building block for the next step and should be applied as a sequential step that is also an integral part of mission planning, rather than each step being applied as a separate standalone procedure.
  2. Maintain balance in the process. Every step and element of the process is important and should be afforded due diligence. The objective is to assess the time and resources available for RM and to allocate them in a manner most likely to produce the best result.
  3. Apply the process as a cycle. The RM process is not a one-way cycle (refer to Figure 3-1). The process contains elements that require review and feedback, which provides checks and balances, and also the flexibility to make adjustments as the situation changes.
  4. Involve personnel. The RM process is effective only if the personnel exposed to the risks and those who possess subject matter expertise in the task or mission are fully involved. These stakeholders have a vested interest in the outcome and will ensure the process is sound. Stakeholders help identify hazards and shape risk decisions. Leadership includes higher command levels in these risk decisions when necessary based on briefed risk decision levels from higher levels of command, and to ensure proper resourcing, visibility and oversight for implemented controls.
  5. Document the process. Documenting the results of the RM assessment helps to organize ideas, identify courses of action, and brief and debrief the event. Documentation provides a valid reference to evaluate progress during the execution phase and a record for future use, which allows an organization to capitalize on lessons learned to improve performance and minimize repeat shortcomings.

Tools to Assess Hazards

Joint Risk Assessment Matrix


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Joint Risk Assessment Tool (JRAT)

The JRAT is a Web-based software application that assists the user with completing a deliberate joint risk assessment matrix. The software guides the user through each of the steps in an intuitive fashion with help screens and process information. The JRAT allows the chain-of-command to supervise and conduct quality control of the risk assessment process. The site will also provide up-to-date and relevant safety information and tutorials, and will serve as the primary transition tool for the Joint Risk Assessment Matrix. Upon completion of an assessment, reports can be printed and the assessment can be shared electronically. The USMC JRAT site is available via CAC access at: https://jrat.safety.army.mil/login.aspx.

Naval Safety Center's Lessons Learned

The Naval Safety Center's Lessons Learned are an excellent resource of useful information compiled from previous mishaps that can be used to improve your programs and procedures as well as reduce mishaps.